Coming Full Circle in Wisconsin
By Kurt Flack, Regional Director for Southern Wisconsin and Illinois
On a Friday night in late May 2012, Dale White, a committee member on the Janesville, Wisconsin, Chapter, and his wife Karen were out for a fish fry at a local establishment. While they were waiting for a table, Tim Bakke sat down and noticed the RMEF logo on Dale’s shirt. They struck up a conversation about the foundation, which led to a story about a charcoal elk drawing that Tim’s daughter Tessa had done for her art class at Parker High School. It was nearing the end of the school year, and they would soon have to bring the artwork home. But they had no place to display a large 6-foot by 8-foot drawing. Tessa would be leaving for college and couldn’t take it with her.
Dale took Tessa’s story and a photo of her artwork to the next big game banquet meeting, and the committee suggested she take a chance on a split donation for the live auction at the upcoming banquet. Maybe it could become a win-win-win for Tessa, RMEF and the lucky buyer! It was apparent to everyone on the committee that Tessa was very talented, and the artwork was as good as any professional pieces they had seen.
As the August banquet approached, everyone was nervous not knowing how a large charcoal drawing would do at an auction. Committees always hope their auction items do well, but never know for sure if the right bidders will be in the room. It is even more nerve-wracking when it is something personal that someone put their time, effort and talent into. Tessa attended the banquet so she could see her artwork put on the auction block. She would be leaving for college soon and could certainly use the money, but she was equally excited that the other half of the earnings were going to conservation!
Like so many other things with RMEF, great people, hard work and timing made for a great result. Dale’s wife Karen had only heard the story and seen the photo, but when she saw the drawing in person she decided she wanted it. A bidding war ensued, and in the end Tessa’s artwork raised a total of $1,200—an impressive reward for her exceptional effort and generous donation. The smile on Tessa’s face let us know she was pleased with the results.
And Karen is, too. She and Dale are now the proud owners of a beautiful, original charcoal drawing of an elk!
Thanks, Tessa, for helping the Janesville Chapter protect habitat for elk and other wildlife!